by Tony Attwood
How Arteta built the new Arsenal and took us to the top of the league part 2
In the summer of 2020 Arsenal brought in Partey, Magalhães and Elneny (the latter returning from loan) and gave them and the rest of the defence the job of learning to play with reduced tackling. For once it was fortunate that the media didn’t notice anything, because for the first third of the season it looked like an utter disaster, as the defenders learned their new approach on the job.
The first 14 games of the season took us up to Christmas Day and by then the knives were out, because without knowledge of the tactical transformation taking place it looked as if the manager didn’t really know what he was doing.
Thus the Express ran the headline
That was said by Perry Groves talking with the notorious Talk Sport. In reply Arteta said, “From within the club everything I am feeling is just support, encouragement, and total confidence that we will get through this together,”
Here is how the league table looked on entering the holiday season and the journalists who had not got the slightest idea of what was going on (in that they never once mentioned the decline in yellow cards for Arsenal), were persuading AFTV and others to demand Arteta’s immediate removal.
And it is a moment worth mentioning because those demanding this, failed to notice that Arsenal were now letting in fewer goals than table-topping Liverpool. It was part of a series of catastrophic errors for “journalists”, “commentators” and “analysts” who collectively could not see what was happening.
So the table on Xmas Day read…
|9||West Ham United||13||6||3||4||21||16||5||21|
Only Pep Guardiola spoke out in Arsenal’s favour! Responding to the howls for a sacking he said on BBC Radio 5 Live. “They will do a huge, big mistake if they [sack Arteta],’ And. ‘I’m pretty sure they are going to trust him.” (as quoted in the Mail).
“I understand that the analysts analyse the results. But I was with him many years and I know his incredible quality as a human being and especially as a manager, how he is involved in everything. It’s just a question of time and he will do well.”
But TalkSport was not going to let go – (and of course they have never once apologised for their total lack of understanding and profound misreading of the situation). Their headline on 22 December was
‘Mikel Arteta has THREE games to save his job’ claims former Arsenal star Perry Groves, who believes manager could be SACKED by end of December.
Caught Offside, relishing Arsenal’s woes as it saw them wrote
Mikel Arteta now odds-on for sack this season, Mauricio Pochettino considered an outside chance for the Arsenal job
In many ways it was totally obscene, as with the Sporting Life’s headline
Arsenal manager odds: Mikel Arteta leads sack race odds
Now the point here is that it is possible to find hundreds and hundreds of these “Arteta to be sacked” headlines along with articles frantically speculating as to who would be next in line for the hot seat.
And of course, as we know it didn’t happen. What also didn’t happen was any apology for the frantic fever that gripped the media and led to this vast array of wrong speculations.
What actually happened was that Arsenal won five and drew two of their next seven league games. And that wasn’t a blip. A table made up of the rest of the season read, at the top…
|4||West Ham United||24||13||5||6||41||28||13||44|
OK the gap to Manchester City at the top was big, but this showed Arsenal had suddenly turned a corner. Along with that an analysis at the end of the season showed that compared with the previous season Arsenal’s tackles were down 22%, fouls were down 18% and yellow cards down an amazing 45%!
In fact this last stastistic – yet another one ignored by the media – showed that Arsenal had moved from being the most yellow-carded team with 86 yellows in 2019/20, down to 17th in the yellow-card table with just 47.
And what is amazing is that this wasn’t achieved by changing the entire style of play. True there were slightly more shots per game than the season before, but that was very slight as was the fact that there were 1.4 more passes per game. Likewise goals, possession percentage, aerial challenges won were all very close to the season before. Nothing had changed except the discipline.
And amazingly these seemingly well-paid journalists didn’t notice a thing!!!
The series continues.
- Is the injury to Gabriel Jesus equivalent to the assault on Eduardo in 2008?
- Womens Champions League Arsenal Women v Juventus – the match preview
- It never rains but the journalists want Arsenal to drown in a mess of their own making
- Back to the football: Watford video and Arsenal v Lyon 8 December preview
- The 40 players coming to Arsenal and the 6 most predicted for this January